A child is in need of protection when someone older is in a position of authority or trust, physically, emotionally or sexually mistreats or neglects a child.
Most children know and trust the person who is doing this to them – also known as the abuser. If the abuser is not part of the family they often have become friends with the child and their family. This puts the child in a very uncomfortable position. To tell someone about the abuse is to say something ”bad’ about this family member or friend. Often a child is told (directly or indirectly) they will get in ‘trouble’ if they tell (threatened) or they are promised ‘special treats’ to stay quiet (bribery).
A child in this situation naturally feels very confused, anxious and alone. They know something is not right yet they don’t know how to get the help they need. Imagine feeling this kind of conflict and not knowing who to turn to for help. These strong, conflicting emotions can keep a child silent about the abuse for weeks, months, years or even a lifetime.
Every child has the right to grow up free from abuse and we all have a shared responsibility to make that happen. This quick guide is designed to give you practical information to help you if you suspect child abuse or neglect. It tells you what to look for, how to respond and who to call for help.
The presence or absence of one or many of the signs does not necessarily mean that a child has been abused or neglected, However, they are related to children living under highly stressful circumstances which may include abuse or neglect.